Smoking increases recurrent viral hepatitis after liver transplantation



Smoking is a common behavior among transplant candidates. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of smoking on a range of complications after liver transplantation. We reviewed data about patient demographics and various complications after liver transplantation that were recorded in the McGill University Health Centre liver transplant database over a 14-year period. χ2 and multivariate analyses were performed. Four hundred forty-four liver transplants were performed from 1990 to 2004, and 63 were repeat transplants. Only primary liver transplant recipients were included in our analysis. Smokers (ie, active or former smokers) were more likely to be male (77.9% versus 62.7%, P = 0.009) and Caucasian (88.4% versus 78.0%, P = 0.03). The median survival time was 13.23 years for smokers and was not estimable for nonsmokers because of censoring. The median recurrent viral hepatitis–free survival time was 0.87 years for smokers and 4.10 years for nonsmokers (P = 0.03). The following variables were not found to be associated with the smoking status: patient survival (P = 0.78), time to biliary complications after liver transplantation (P = 0.67), time to the first rejection episode after liver transplantation (P = 0.61), and time to depression after liver transplantation (P = 0.67). A Cox proportional hazards regression showed that recurrent viral hepatitis–free survival was still strongly associated with smoking [HR = 2.04, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.13-3.68, P = 0.018] and was marginally associated with East Asian race (HR = 0.26, 95% CI = 0.06-1.06, P = 0.06) and male sex (HR = 0.59, 95% CI = 0.34-1.02, P = 0.06). In conclusion, recurrent viral hepatitis–free survival was decreased for smokers after liver transplantation, likely because of the adverse effects of tobacco on immunological host defenses. Overall, the biliary complication–free, depression-free, and rejection-free survival rates were similar for smokers and nonsmokers. These findings suggest that smoking cessation should be encouraged, particularly in recipients undergoing transplantation for viral hepatitis. Liver Transpl, 2012. © 2012 AASLD.